[Marxism] Orwell's Self-Censorship

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu Mar 25 02:43:00 MST 2004

Comparing _The Road to Wigan Pier_ with "The Road to Wigan Pier 
Diary" on which the former is based:

*****   Orwell took little interest in the textile industry: for him, 
Wigan was a mining town, although in fact cotton was equally 
important with coal in its economy.  Nor did he do more than allude 
to the role of women workers.(95)  Most notable of all, perhaps, is 
that he depicts no cheerful people, says virtually nothing of pubs, 
and alludes to sport only very briefly. . . . The only joke in the 
book [The Road to Wigan Pier], if such it can be called, is about a 
man refused the dole on the grounds that he had a job `carting 
firewood', whereas in reality he had been doing a moonlight flit from 
his lodgings with his furniture.(96)  Yet it seems that the omission 
of all jollity from the book was the result not so much of a blind 
spot as of self-censorship.

The [Road to Wigan Pier] Diary is notably `lighter' in tone.  His 
first landlady in Wigan, Mrs H, was of `merry disposition' and her 
son `seems fairly happy'.  He also included a section on pubs (which 
employed singers and dancers, some of whom were said to be very 
immoral) and working men's clubs (with `a good knockabout comedian 
whose jokes were of the usual twins-mother-in-law-kippers type, and 
pretty steady boozing').  His original notes referred to the 
existence of 160 pubs in Wigan, one to every 540 of the 
population.(97)  There is also more about working-class political 
organizations in the Diary, and a speech by Wal Hannington of the 
National Unemployed Workers' Movement at Wigan Co-op hall was 
described.  Orwell was surprised by the amount of communist feeling: 
there were loud cheers when Hannington announced that if England and 
the USSR went to war, the latter would win.  The audience was `rough 
... but very attentive', in sharp contrast to Orwell's judgement in 
the book that the working class had `grown servile'.(98)

(Robert Pearce, "Revisiting Orwell's 'Wigan Pier,'" _History: The 
Journal of the Historical Association_, July 1997, 
<http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/ctc/docs/wigpier.htm>   *****

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